Two days to go.
Chickens have been farmed out (thank you Carolyn for taking in my scrawny anorexic terrorists).
Boxes and cases have been packed, unpacked, rearranged, exchanged, packed again and sworn at.
Bathroom tiles have been resealed with bathroom sealant.
I have dusted places that I didn't know existed before programmes like 'How Clean is your House' and I have hoped the growth in the fridge would spontaneously disappear before our housesitters arrive.
Van has been loaded, unloaded, altered, loaded, unloaded, sworn at.
List has been ticked, debated over, scribbled on, restarted, sworn at.
Doorkeys have been distributed, no swearing involved.
Marital harmony has been maintained despite two hissy fits and an obsession with finding 'the right box to make use of that space'.
For those brave souls who are housesitting I have written a list of instructions concerning all my quirky and dangerous household appliances. This comprises a whole side of A4 on:
why if you plug in the dishwasher at the same time as the washing machine the plug melts
why you can't run hot and cold water at the same time
why the vacuum cleaner has no 'ON' switch - 'it's plug and go, just watch your socks'
why you need to empty the margarine tub that catches the drips from the toilet plumbing
why you need long fingernails to open the cupboards in the lounge
why we only have two tropical fish left ('don't worry they're naturally carnivorous')
why the oven is full of dog hair and
why the Wii machine inexplicably goes 'pfutt' and stops working whenever you get to a good bit in a game and haven't saved it...
I have ventured into the world of wool (my loft). As any knitter will sympathise I wanted to take 8 crates of the woolly stuff, plus all the patterns on my shelf, plus every size of knitting needle (just in case). I restricted myself to 4 balls, different colours. Then added more balls (don't want to run out). Then taken some away (too many). Then added some more. Just in case. Ditto knitting needles. It is a suitcase in flux. It may - or may not - reach equilibrium before we set off. Otherwise I'll be the woman wailing on the M6, 'If only I'd brought along my green superwash sock wool and set of 4 double pointed 2.5mm needles - waaaaahhhhh !'
I have put clothes into suitcase. I have salvaged slightly worn clothes from washing basket (those that passed the sniff test) and put them in. I have taken contents of suitcase out, removed one-third of clothes (supposedly the prescribed amount of clothes to remove when packing for travels) and then realised that I only have 2 pairs of knickers and no trousers left. I have watched the weather and done the okey cokey with summer clothes (in-out-in-out-oh-bugger). I have folded, rolled and eventually stuffed items in. I have washed clothes (those that didn't pass the sniff test) and waved them around hoping that they will dry in time to pack. I have realised that half of my children's clothes (the ones we need) have been left at other people's houses. I have bemoaned the lack of space and redistributed the boring stuff in my case to other people's suitcases (towels, very boring). I have wondered if they sell facial wipes, scissors, string, notebooks,'Vegetable Garden' tinned vegetable chilli, clothes pegs, boys pants and the special sort of strawberry toothpaste that dd likes, in Scotland and then packed the lot anyway.
I have looked at my Diploma reading list (see previous post). I have scoured the charity shops for books on said list. I have put 5 of such books in my suitcase. Considering I have never yet managed to read a novel while camping (least not since I've had children) I challenge anyone who has ever called me a pessimist.
So decision has been made. A Streetcar Named Desire gets in (though I don't know how I'm supposed to do all the different voices - maybe I'll rope the kids in). I'm sorry, Salmon Fishdie, your Midnight's Children did NOT pass the 'browse test' ('Hmmm..there's a lot of words on that page. My, what interesting fluff has collected down the cracks in the floorboards').
'To Kill A Mockingbird' got in on 'browse test' merit. It's not actually on the reading list, but that's because the list is written by people who think everyone will have read books like Mockingbird in their first year of primary school. (I'm not suggesting that academics are out of touch with the public, just stating a self-evident truth).
The next book that reached the finals and secured a place in the suitcase...drum roll....was some book whose title I can't remember and is written by someone I don't know (and cant remember either). It has an unremarkable stormy seasidey cover that looks like every other book on the bestseller shelf in WH Smiths. The only reason it's going in is because I was hoping that the contents might be some sort of sado-sinister Chick Lit. AND because the alternative might have been Jane Austen or some book about a guy who hangs himself (yeah I checked the ending on Wikipedia before buying that one). Unless I'm getting confused and there's someone who hangs themself in a Jane Austen novel. If so, I might give that one a go.
'Oranges are not the Only Fruit' passed the 'weird front cover' test and got in as a last-minute wildcard.
And, yes, I know that's only 4 books and I said I'd packed 5. What's number 5? Oh I dunno. Maybe it was Easy Suduko or something.